Marketing professionals are the unsung heroes who create many innovative campaigns that not only impress consumers but also help companies with their business growth. At the HKMA/TVB Awards for Marketing Excellence 2008, held last night at the JW Marriott Hotel, some of the brightest marketers in Hong Kong received recognition for their hard work. Organised by the Hong Kong Management Association (HKMA) and sponsored by Television Broadcasts (TVB), the awards presentation is a premier event which recognises companies and individuals for their outstanding performance. In its 23rd year, the competition has received increased support from the local business sector. 'The number of entrants is on the rise,' said Cheong Shin-keong, general manager for broadcasting at TVB, and chairman of the awards organising committee. 'The quality of entries and their level of creativity are very high. Many of these campaigns have generated impressive results.' The awards comprise campaigns and individual categories. Among entrants from various industries, six finalists were selected to compete in the campaign category. In addition to innovative concepts and the achievement of exceptional results, the judges were impressed by their ability to address challenges and overcome barriers arising from an intensely competitive environment, he said. The management and staff of these companies were united in their participation in the contest, and they had deployed increased resources to internal marketing, Mr Cheong said. 'While this is particularly applicable to the service sector, we have seen more companies, which sell products, adopting internal marketing. To execute a marketing campaign effectively, it takes the devotion of the entire company. 'Along with external communication, internal marketing has become an integral part of a successful marketing campaign,' he said. The Gold Prize winner in the campaign category was Harbour City Estates. Amid fierce competition in the local shopping-mall market, Harbour City revitalised its image and maintained its lead in revenues generated and shopper traffic. While parts of the shopping complex were built several years ago, and changes to its internal configuration had to be piecemeal, Harbour City successfully launched innovative, themed promotional activities to attract shoppers. One example was a campaign which united all of Harbour City's cosmetics brand tenants, promoting it as the mall with the largest number of cosmetics brands in Hong Kong, Mr Cheong said. 'Harbour City has also implemented an impressive strategy in the selection of street-level shop tenants along Canton Road and upgraded the quality of tenants with flagship stores of top international brands and department stores,' he said. 'The entire campaign reflected the high precision with which Harbour City captured the interest of shoppers and formulated strategies accordingly.' The Silver Prize winner, Pizza Hut Hong Kong Management, launched an innovative product called the 'cheesy bites'. It excelled in executing an effective service delivery for the new product launch and implemented a creative marketing strategy to sustain consumer interest, Mr Cheong said. With the product launch, Pizza Hut boosted sales substantially even outside its traditionally strong periods, such as Christmas, he said. Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency took home the Bronze Prize. It pulled off an impressive campaign for its Manhattan Hill project in West Kowloon and achieved an average price per square foot much higher than other residential projects in the neighbourhood, Mr Cheong said. Through innovative design and use of high-quality building materials, the developer succeeded in creating a pleasant, upscale living environment in an area which traditionally did not command very high prices per square foot. An excellent communication strategy convinced prospective homebuyers that the project was good value for money, he said. In a sharp contrast to the common practice, Sun Hung Kai located its show units inside the actual project. 'This reflected the confidence of the developer in the transformation of the living environment and the quality of the project,' Mr Cheong said. Three other companies were honoured with a certificate of excellence in the campaign category. McDonald's was cited for its 'Ronald McDonald House Charities: Part of Me, Part of My Community' campaign; PCCW Mobile for its campaign 'PCCW Mobile - Building A Brand with Passion Power'; and Coca-Cola China for its 'Launch of Coca-Cola Zero Hong Kong' campaign. McDonald's launched its two-pronged campaign to fulfil its corporate social responsibility by contributing to charity and reinforcing its corporate image. Apart from looking at how much money was raised, the judges considered whether the campaign helped to bolster the public recognition of the brand or not. 'We agreed it has done well,' Mr Cheong said. 'The company faces challenges because of negative public sentiment towards fast food. To improve its image through this campaign, McDonald's has provided facilities for needy families to play with their young kids.' For PCCW, Mr Cheong said the company offered an impressive convergence of multimedia and mobile technology. It maximised easy access to multimedia and provided greater convenience to users. By doing so, the mobile service provider had successfully expanded its customer base in a competitive market. Coca-Cola has launched several products to address the public's health concern over the high sugar content in soft drinks, but achieved limited success. 'Eventually the company launched Coke Zero whose taste is identical to the original. It tailored a focused campaign, including the apt product name, to make the message clear to consumers,' Mr Cheong said. Through participating in the Marketing Excellence Awards, the contestants enhanced an understanding of their companies as they had to review and highlight the unique aspects of their campaigns. Not only did this enhance team spirit, it was also a valuable learning experience, he said. 'The finalists could also learn from each other at the Award Seminar because each of them presented the highlights of their campaigns,' Mr Cheong said.